The Angels on Monday shut down Albert Pujols for the rest of the season because of a partial tear of the plantar fascia in his left heel, a decision the slugger conceded was best for him and the organization.
“I’m bummed out because I want to be out there with the guys, but I think it’s a smart move,” said Pujols, who was hobbled all season by the sore heel, which finally gave out in Oakland on July 26. “I can try to have a normal, healthy off-season and get ready for spring training.”
The minimum recovery period for the injury is six weeks, and Pujols, who hit .258 with 17 home runs and 64 runs batted in in 99 games, expressed as recently as Friday a desire to return in September.
But with the Angels far out of playoff contention — they entered Monday night’s game against the Cleveland Indians 15 1/2 games out in the American League West — there is no need to bring Pujols, who has eight years and $212 million left on his contract after this season, back for the final two weeks.
The decision was finalized Monday after meetings that included owner Arte Moreno, General Manager Jerry Dipoto, Manager Mike Scioscia, the team’s medical and training staff and Pujols.
“They said they think this is best for the organization, and I told them whatever you want to do, I’m for it,” Pujols said. “It’s tough, but I can’t be selfish. … If we were two or three games back in two weeks, I’d come back and play, but is it worth it to take a risk?”
With the plantar fascia having torn on its own, Pujols, who has also played with a sore right knee, essentially replicated the surgery he was expected to have in October without having to undergo an invasive procedure.
To treat plantar fasciitis, doctors cut the band of affected tissue to release tension and relieve inflammation. The surrounding tissues attach to the injured band and help it heal.
Instead of having surgery in October and spending most of the winter rehabilitating, Pujols can spend the next two months recovering and, the Angels hope, come back healthy and strong in 2014.
“Our medical staff feels it’s the best course of action,” Scioscia said. “Everything would have had to be perfectly aligned for him to come back to play, and to get him to that level might put him at risk and set him back. Now, we can get him ready for next year. It’s a decision everyone is at peace with."